After the whirlwind of a busy conference season, which usually involves countless plane flights, hotels, and faraway cities, I find it such a relief to make that final trip back to our beautiful Colorado home, nestled in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains and surrounded on all sides by snow-laden pine trees. Relaxing by candlelight, sipping coffee, and listening to gorgeous instrumental music while sharing a dessert souffle' with my family is just the kind of rest I need after those busy winter months.
Each of us has our own puzzle of life to figure out, and we assemble the pieces with the grace God provides us in our need. My puzzle of a speaking/writing/ministry life has meant that by March each year, my body is in need of restoration and the rhythms of home.
In Colorado, March still clings to the chill of winter even as signs of spring begin to emerge. The persistence of cold and gray makes it that much harder to persevere with my normal responsibilities.
That is why I almost always take a break in March. The journey of ministry and homemaking to which I have been called is a long one, and if I am to make it to the end with resilience, I have to plan for adequate rest along the way.
It also helps, I’ve learned, to seek out beauty, especially on those long, gray days of March. I remember once that a friend told Sarah, my oldest daughter, that her love for beauty seemed a bit frivolous.
Thankfully I was able to share with her that we are all responsible to keep a light burning in our souls and that beauty is one of the most profound fuels for that fire. Creating a beautiful environment and appreciating the joyful moments in the midst of a fallen, sad world not only nurtures the light in our souls but also helps give light to others.
None of us is immune to pain and ugliness in life. Allowing ourselves to admit that truth and to recognize that our difficulties may persist for years can actually free us to be intentional about staying alive and awake to God’s goodness in the midst of it all. We all have to take responsibility for replenishing our souls, and God has given beauty as a watering can to hydrate the dry and shriveled parts of our lives. Just as God incarnated Himself into the world in the person of Christ, He wants to incarnate His life into our lives every day. Beauty is one of His primary means of doing that.
How do we bring more of this incarnational beauty into our lives and find refreshment when we grow weary? I’ve found it helps to be with people who inspire beauty in my soul and help me become centered and feel understood. These relationships provide a kind of soul sanctuary where I can stop pretending and most fully be myself. Godly friendships can act as human “cathedrals,” and when we enter into the safety of their love and support, we are enabled to worship God more fully in the beauty of His holiness.